The story is set in Paris during the mid 1800s The lead heroine iMarguerite Gautier, a young beautiful courtesanwho is a "kept woman"by counts and dukes -men of"Fashionable Society". She meets a young middle class lover Armand Duval who does the unpardonable thing of falling jealously in love with her and breaking all convention of what's expected between a courtesan and her admirers. He, of course, has no way of sustaining the standard of living which she is accustomed to In her fragile physical state?Marguerite has tuberculosis which? she moves to the country. There in her new house, a confrontation between the jealous Armand and her rich admirers and "benefactors"takes placEor the firsttime she sticks up for her lover -making a life choice - and they are left indignantly and alone Armand becomes depressed, hisareer seems doomed by the intolerance of French society, and knowing he will never be able to support Marguerite to the level she deserves. Unbeknownst to Armand, his father comes to plead for her to leave Armand to save both his son's reputationand that of his younger innocesitster-- whom is also tainted by the scandal. To prove her love, she agrees and leaves Armand. She returns to Paris where she despairingly throws herself back into her old lifestyle Armand can't believe she's left and searches for her - finally finding her in Paris in the arms of a new lover.